Dead In The Sea Of Trees

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Live and learn… how people die, where and why…

Aokigaharathe forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. This is no place for a leisurely stroll. The forest’s trees organically twist and turn, their roots winding across the forest floor in treacherous threads. Because of its location at the base of a mountain, the ground is uneven, rocky, and perforated with hundreds of caves. But more jarring than its tricky terrain is the feeling of isolation created from the stillness; the trees are too tightly packed for winds to whip through and the wildlife is sparse. One visitor described the silence as “chasms of emptiness.” She added, “I cannot emphasize enough the absence of sound. My breath sounded like a roar.”

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Suicide is the leading cause of death for Japanese men between the ages of 20 and 44. It is beginning to look like an epidemic among teens as well. For the elderly, it’s a problem, too, as Japanese life insurance (for the most part) still pays out in suicide cases. There doesn’t appear to be any sector of Japanese society that is not dealing with suicide, and one of the most popular places to do it is in Aokigahara Forest. (From the article by David Mattews)dead4
Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven’t wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002.

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The forest workers have it even worse than the police. The workers must carry the bodies down from the forest to the local station, where the bodies are put in a special room used specifically to house suicide corpses. The forest workers then play jan-ken-pon—rock, paper, scissors—to see who has to sleep in the room with the corpse.

It is believed that if the corpse is left alone, it is very bad luck for the yurei (ghost) of the suicide victims. Their spirits are said to scream through the night, and their bodies will move on their own. (From the article Aokigahara Suicide Forest.)


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